Thursday, March 18, 2010

Signs of Spring

The first day of spring is right around the corner and with it comes the return of the monarch butterflies who will reawaken after a four months in hibernation. Many of the preschools I photograph at raise butterflies from larva each spring, giving the children the opportunity to witness up-close the complete life cycle of these beautifully delicate creatures.

Small Friends Preschool takes this a step further with their butterfly tent that is large enough for a child to sit in. Climbing in the tent gives each child the opportunity to get hands on experience with the recently hatched butterflies, and gave me the opportunity to capture some great photographs during my annual visit.

If you are interested in raising butterflies at your home, it is pretty simple and inexpensive. Amazon offers the Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden kit for just over $14 (plus $3 for five butterfly larvae and special food, ordered using the included mail-in voucher). The kit is reusable and the larvae are available year round, so you can raise butterflies at any time of year, though butterflies should only be set free in temperatures over 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Where Butterflies Grow, by Joanne Ryder is an excellent picture book about the life cycle of butterflies and would be a perfect companion to the butterfly kit. Read it before starting and refer back to it throughout the process as a reminder of what will happen next.

We first discovered it online as an audio book. It may seem strange to have an audio only version of a picture book, but Joanne Ryder's text gets children's imagination actively involved from the very first line. "Image you are someone small hidden in a tiny egg...." This line sets the stage for an engaging journey from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. Ethan has even acted out the story while listening.

The picture book is equally enthralling. It's detailed watercolor illustrations by Lynne Cherry provide lots for kids to observe and discover. As a postscript, Ryder includes suggestions on how to prepare a portion of your garden to attract butterflies or encourage the ones you have raised to stay.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Seal Beach Playgroup

I have the opportunity to photograph at Seal Beach Playgroup again next week. It will be my second year photographing there and I am really excited to see Miss Tina and all of the kids again. I love photographing at preschools - all the wonder, creativity excitement, and discovery. The children are so engaged in whatever activities the teacher has planned that they hardly even realize I am there.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

There are many ways to say I love you

There are many ways to say I love you,
There are many ways to say I care about you.
Many ways, many ways, many ways to say, I love you.

There's the cooking way to say I love you,
There's the cooking something someone really likes to eat.
The cooking way, the cooking way, the cooking way to say, I love you...

In this simple song, Mister Rogers talks about a few of the things parents and children can do to show their love for each other.

I sing it to myself when I am performing some of the more mundane (or challenging tasks) of parenting, and am reminded why I am doing them. You can easily substitute nearly any parenting chore - "there's the changing diapers way to say I love you", "there's the driving you to soccer practice way to say I love you", "there's the disciplining you way to say I love you", "there's the potty training way to say I love you", "there's the spending time with you way to say I love you", "there's the packing your lunch way to say I love you."

While photographing at Great Beginnings preschool last year, I was fortunate to spot the scene above, demonstrating the care with which the teachers set out the children's lunches each day and the love of the mom who packed one with a special note.

Here is a link to the song, with slightly different lyrics than the CD version.

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